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Published: Sunday, 10/28/2001

Defense workers OK 4-year pact

BY BLADE STAFF WRITER

LIMA, Ohio - A four-year contract calling for annual raises of at least 3 percent has been ratified by hundreds of United Auto Workers at the Army tank plant in Lima, a technical facility near Detroit, and a parts plant near Scranton, Pa.

The contract covers workers in defense contractor General Dynamics' Land Systems division.

Vote totals were not released, but the ratification was overwhelming: The contract was approved by 76 percent of all production and maintenance workers at the three sites, by 90 percent of the office and clerical workers, and by 85 percent of the technical and engineering workers, said Jeff Monroe, president of Local 2075 in Lima.

The Lima plant had a 2-percent lower margin of support among production and maintenance workers, yet the pact still was ratified by 74 percent of them. Support from office-clerical and technical-engineering workers in Lima was higher than the other plants, at 95 and 91 percent, respectively, Mr. Monroe said.

Votes were taken Friday at the Lima facility and at the company's headquarters in Sterling Heights, Mich., but results were not released until after the Scanton-area workers voted yesterday.

The contract calls for raises of 3 percent a year during the first three years, plus 3.5 percent the fourth year. A number of performance incentives were included, as well as the establishment of a 401(k) retirement plan that will include a company match of up to 7 percent, Mr. Monroe said.

The unions took the agreement to their workers for ratification after reaching a tentative agreement with the company Monday, a week after UAW members had initiated a strike on Oct. 15. The previous contract expired Oct. 14.

The new contract maintains health care coverage for plant retirees, and allows others who earlier could not get health-care coverage to now do so. ``The retiree situation was resolved, I'm pleased to say, and it really was a major sticking point,'' Mr. Monroe said.

General Dynamics, he said, had sought more flexibility in controlling costs and it received help.

``We negotiated an agreement that allows them to put work in facilities and grow the business like they wanted,'' Mr. Monroe said.

The Lima plant, which is owned by the government and managed by General Dynamics, produces the Army's main battle tank, the M1A2 Abrams, a combat bridge vehicle known as a Wolverine, and a section of the Army's new 8-wheeled combat vehicle.



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